Thursday, October 14, 2010

THE Best Chocolate Chip Cookie EVER

This was an impulse buy at lunch today but my oh my, it was deLICious! Best chocolate chip cookie ever! And it's pretty too - lightly browned with the perfect consistency of fluffy and chewy. Go get one at The Crushery on South Pearl in Denver!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Baking Layer Cakes

Layer cakes are hard. More than anything, well only baking wise of course, I want to be able to produce a perfectly shaped, flat toped and smoothly iced layer cake. Three layers is my favorite. I once made a carrot cake that seriously took forever but I learned a few things that day and hope to not repeat 8-hours-standing-barefoot-in-the-kitchen again. Ouchie. Unless someone is paying me because it’s five years later and I’m the best at-home cake baker in Denver ;)

The occasion was Matt and Rebecca’s wedding celebration at work. We got them a waffle iron and served this cake.

Here are some things I have learned thus far about layer cake baking:
1. Have enough pans to bake all of your layers at once. Not doing so takes twice as long and produces layers with slightly different textures.
2. Be overly generous when greasing your pans. I always thought, “A little is all I need – more cost effective and a tad bit healthier.” I was wrong and HAVE cried when large chunks of cake are still in the pan after flipping the rest out.
3. Use a measuring cup or scale when diving batter between pans for evenly sized layers.
4. Drop each pan on a hard surface (only from a few inches above) a few times after the batter is in and before you put them in the oven. This levels the batter and helps eliminate any large air pockets.
5. Take the cake out of the oven within the cook time suggested. I left the cake above in a bit too long after forgetting that it will have time to fully set while cooling afterwards. It was a good recipe but ended up being too dry.
6. Run a butter knife or small frosting spatula between the cake and pan after removing from the oven to make sure there aren’t any tiny snags on your edges.
7. Let your cakes cool completely before trying to remove them from their pans or you may encounter the problem described in tip #2.
8. Level your cake layers by cutting the tops off with a long, freshly sharpened serrated knife, or one of these handy wires I bought at Cake Crafts in Englewood.

And for many, MANY more tips on cake baking, read America’s Test Kitchen baking book for THE overall best baking tips I have found. Supplement those with high altitude adjustments found in Susan G. Purdy’s Pie in the Sky.

Maybe someday my layer cakes will look more like this!

Congratulations to Lisa and Brandon in Texas, whose wedding I just returned from this morning. Their amaretto cake above was delish!

Tips on frosting layer cakes to come and please, please let me know if anything I post ever works (or doesn't!) for you.